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Power outage in the TSBD?


Guest Mark Valenti
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Michael,

Who was the unnamed officer that told Mooney to cover the Depository at a time when many (including Mooney) felt the shots came from the railroad yards?

The only officer I can remember being told that the shots came from the Depository was John Wiseman. The Hesters told him that.

Steve Thomas

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Could it be that the responding officers in the book depository actually cut off the stairs, the elevator and the roof fairly well and WOULD HAVE CAUGHT A HOT ASSASSIN but since all they had to find was the shells and italian rifle "lair" they found only what was left for them...............

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It is worth noting that in his 11/23/63 sheriff's department statement, as well as in his interview by Larry Sneed published in 1998, Mooney doesn't mention anyone coming down the stairs as he was going up.

Also, it was erroneously stated earlier that Victoria Adams must have been one of the women who wanted to get on Mooney's elevator on the second floor. The two women Mooney mentioned got on the elevator with him on the first floor, saying they wanted to go to the second. They got off on the second floor, where their office was, at which point the power to the elevator cut off.

Edited by Ron Ecker
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(I)t was erroneously stated earlier that Victoria Adams must have been one of the women who wanted to get on Mooney's elevator on the second floor. The two women Mooney mentioned got on the elevator with him on the first floor, saying they wanted to go to the second. They got off on the second floor, where their office was, at which point the power to the elevator cut off.
Ron ...

Different women. Two got on at the first floor and off at the second, with a third - Adams - apparently waiting to get on at the second. Otherwise there are two instances of the elevator getting stuck on the second floor, only minutes at most apart. It would also have had to have been operating again in between, because it had obviously left the second floor to pick the "new" people up somehow.

I cannot recall any report or testimony of any of the other women indicating that they'd boarded the elevator with Mooney on the first floor, but there may have been. Also, Mooney doesn't mention a second man on the elevator with him, and Adams doesn't mention women getting off (I don't think), so either the details were blurred or lost by these two people during the five months time between the event and their testimony.

(As another former TSBD employee has said, things were just happening, and most people weren't paying particular attention to them at the time because they didn't know there would be any reason to remember them.)

A third possibility, of course, is that the elevator always had the problem of not operating at the second floor unless you did something that wouldn't be obvious to everyone ... like Mooney. Sort of like having to jiggle your key a certain way in a lock for it to open: if you didn't know to do it, you'd think the key was bad or the lock was broken.

As to the power being off, that can only be an impression they'd had since neither stuck around to try to troubleshoot the problem. I'm also curious - and hopefully in the process of finding out - if there were other things that could have affected the elevator's operation, such as someone pulling at the doors on another floor so that a necessary contact was separated (remember: if the boys going down to lunch at noon had left the door open, LHO couldn't have called the elevator back, so the doors being closed had something to do with it, and them being slightly apart could have affected the operation too).

I don't imagine that separating the contacts (or whatever) - it might have been possible to do that accidentally - would have stopped the elevator mid-floor, but I don't find it unrealistic that it would have prevented the elevator from re-starting after it had stopped.

It is worth noting that in his 11/23/63 sheriff's department statement, as well as in his interview by Larry Sneed published in 1998, Mooney doesn't mention anyone coming down the stairs as he was going up.
If you've ever reported something to a cop - say, a break-in at your house - what you tell him as you're explaining what happened, and what you finally write down as being the salient information they will need to refer to later can be different things, and you're more likely to omit things that you said - talking, after all, is easier than writing and takes less time - than the other way around.

Passing a fellow officer on the stairway might not have seemed very relevant the day it happened - unless every deputy or cop you passed anywhere else was also important - and it may not have even seemed very important when he told it, but that happens sometime: you mention something that you noticed, paid no attention to at the time, but it stuck with you anyway, and state it only in passing. That it wasn't important to you doesn't mean it wasn't important.

Where will one find the Sneed interview? At this juncture, I don't find what he said or didn't say vis-a-vis his WC testimony particularly important unless one were to suggest that because he didn't say or write it at another time, it was therefore a lie. If it wasn't a lie, then it could simply be a detail that went unremarked at one time, unrecalled at another. In the midst of all that was going on, it wasn't necessarily something you'd think was important, and may not to this day (after all, LHO wasn't a deputy sheriff, right? - grin).

I guess it's also a fair question: was he asked about passing anyone on the stairs? ;)

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The interview is in Sneed's book No More Silence. I guess interview is a misnomer, in that the book is a collection of oral histories in which each person simply says all that he has to say, with no questions interposed or following.

Re his ascent in the TSBD, Mooney simply puts everybody in the same elevator and then going together up the stairs. He doesn't mention Webster and Vickery by name, but says, "I knew how to operate a freight elevator, so we pushed the button and went up one floor. But after one floor, the power was cut and the elevator quit operating, so we took the stairs and went toward the upper levels.

"I got off on the sixth floor while some of the others went to the seventh" (p. 225).

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The interview is in Sneed's book No More Silence. I guess interview is a misnomer, in that the book is a collection of oral histories in which each person simply says all that he has to say, with no questions interposed or following.

Ron, in the introduction to No More Silence, Sneed writes the following:

After a number of introductory phone calls and schedulings, my first interview was with former deputy sheriff Luke Mooney, the man credited with locating the shell casings on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination. Being naturally apprehensive as to my reception, I couldn't have been received more cordially. Mooney was the vice-president of Superior Products, a cosmetic company in the northern suburb of Farmer's Branch. I learned much from that initial interview. As I quickly ascertained, my questioning was more argumentative than I intended though Mooney was very accommodating. After the question-answer session, I was given a tour of the factory, treated to lunch, and lead through Dealey Plaza retracing the steps that he had taken just after the shooting. It was certainly more than I could have ever anticipated. The hospitality during that initial encounter prepared me for the cooperation and friendliness that I was to receive on most occasions throughout the remainder of the trip as well as the subsequent seven trips.

As you alluded to, there are some major discrepancies between what Mooney told Sneed and what he told the Warren Commission. In the final analysis, it is difficult to hang one's hat on anything Mooney says. I'm aware that the passage of time can dull one's memory, but there are a couple of mitigating factors in my opinion.

One is the historic nature of the event, and the other is the fact that Mooney had already been on official record with an investigative arm of the federal government.

In any event, I think Sneed was probably unprepared to ask the most important questions.

Here's just one example of many; Mooney tells Sneed, "I'd estimate that I was in the parking lot area less than ten minutes; whereupon, I noticed a big open wire gate near the freight area of the Book Depository. I saw a citizen there and said, 'Let's close this off, lock it, and don't let anybody in and out unless they're an officer with identification.' "

In his testimony to the Warren Commission (3H 283), Mooney tells Ball:

Yes, sir. To a certain extent--northwest. The way the echo sounded, the cracking of the shot. And we wasn't there many second-- of course I never did look at my watch to see how many seconds it took us to run so many hundred yards there, and into the railroad yard.
We were there only a few seconds until we had orders to cover the Texas Depository Building.

Mr. Ball: How did you get those orders?

Mr. Mooney: They were referred to us by the sheriff, Mr. Bill Decker.

Mr. Ball: Did you hear it over a loudspeaker?

Mr. Mooney: No, sir. It come by word, by another officer.....

Mr. Ball: Were the doors (to the back gate of the Depository) open?

Mr. Mooney: They were wide open, the big gates. So I grabbed one, and we swung them to, and there was a citizen there, and I put him on orders to keep them shut, because I don't recall whether there was a lock on them or not.
Didn't want to lock them
because you never know what might happen.

So he stood guard, I assume, until a uniformed officer took over.

Edited by Michael Hogan
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... Completely lacking in popular mythology is this FACT: Jack Dougherty is the only TSBD employee who has no alibi other than his own word for what he was doing when and after the shots were fired.
Maybe it shouldn't be dignified by response(?), but I'm sort of surprised that this comment and the stuff that followed didn't even apparently catch anyone's notice!
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Duke,

I read Dougherty's testimony, and I must say that he doesn't sound like conspiratorial material. However, there are some things definitely worth noting in his testimony. One, he saw Oswald arrive that morning at 8, and was positive that Oswald had nothing in his hands. Two, he told Mr. Ball that he heard Shelley say that Shelley saw Oswald arrive with a package that morning, yet a month later when Ball interviewed Shelley, Ball didn't ask him anything about seeing Oswald arrive, despite the importance of the package to the official story and having been told that Shelley saw it. Three, Doughtery said that he was on the fifth floor when he heard one shot, and there was nobody else on the floor. And four, the FBI falsified its report on Doughtery, saying that he heard what he thought was a rifle shot on the floor above him, when Doughtery told them he heard what sounded like a car backfire and did not tell them he thought it was from the floor above him.

Ron

Edited by Ron Ecker
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I read Dougherty's testimony, and I must say that he doesn't sound like conspiratorial material.

To say the least.....

From his interview with FBI Agents Ellington and Anderson on the day of the assassination:

Also present during the interview with JACK EDWIN DOUGHERTY was his father, R. C. DOUGHERTY, who advised his son had received a medical discharge from the U. S. Army and indicated his son had considerable difficulty in coordinating his mental facilities with his speech.

From his interview with FBI agent Johnson on December 19, 1963:

During the above interview, the father of JACK EDWIN DOUGHERTY, R. C. DOUGHERTY, was present. It was noted during interview of JACK DOUGHERTY, he had difficulty in correlating his speech with his thoughts, therefore, his father assisted him in furnishing answers to questions asked.

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... Completely lacking in popular mythology is this FACT: Jack Dougherty is the only TSBD employee who has no alibi other than his own word for what he was doing when and after the shots were fired.
Maybe it shouldn't be dignified by response(?), but I'm sort of surprised that this comment and the stuff that followed didn't even apparently catch anyone's notice!

______________________________________________

Duke,

Very interesting analysis and reconstruction of possible scenario! Keep up the good work.

--Thomas

______________________________________________

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Your points are well taken ...

I read Dougherty's testimony, and I must say that he doesn't sound like conspiratorial material. However, there are some things definitely worth noting in his testimony. One, he saw Oswald arrive that morning at 8, and was positive that Oswald had nothing in his hands. Two, he told Mr. Ball that he heard Shelley say that Shelley saw Oswald arrive with a package that morning, yet a month later when Ball interviewed Shelley, Ball didn't ask him anything about seeing Oswald arrive, despite the importance of the package to the official story and having been told that Shelley saw it. Three, Doughtery said that he was on the fifth floor when he heard one shot, and there was nobody else on the floor. And four, the FBI falsified its report on Doughtery, saying that he heard what he thought was a rifle shot on the floor above him, when Doughtery told them he heard what sounded like a car backfire and did not tell them he thought it was from the floor above him.
... and ...
I read Dougherty's testimony, and I must say that he doesn't sound like conspiratorial material.
To say the least.....

From his interview with FBI Agents Ellington and Anderson on the day of the assassination:

Also present during the interview with JACK EDWIN DOUGHERTY was his father, R. C. DOUGHERTY, who advised his son had received a medical discharge from the U. S. Army and indicated his son had considerable difficulty in coordinating his mental facilities with his speech.
(
)

From his interview with FBI agent Johnson on December 19, 1963:

During the above interview, the father of JACK EDWIN DOUGHERTY, R. C. DOUGHERTY, was present. It was noted during interview of JACK DOUGHERTY, he had difficulty in correlating his speech with his thoughts, therefore, his father assisted him in furnishing answers to questions asked.
(
)

Thanks for noting that bit about the second pages of those interviews. It puts the following exchange in a different light, doesn't it?

Mr. Ball
. Now, did you ever have any difficulty with your speech?

Mr. Dougherty
. No.

Mr. Ball
. You never had any?

Mr. Dougherty
. No.

Mr. Ball
. Did you ever have any difficulty in the Army with any medical treatment or anything of that sort?

Mr. Dougherty
. No.

Mr. Ball
. None at all?

Mr. Dougherty
. No.

Mr. Ball
. (Apparently giving up on that line of questioning) What did you do after you got out of the Army? ....

(
)

Jack, as you might know, was 40 years old at the time, single and living at home with his mom and dad who, as you noted, accompanied him to his FBI interviews to lend a helping hand. He had spent "2 years, 1 month, 17 days, to be exact" in the Army, from October 24, 1942 to approximately December 9, 1944; that is, he was discharged before the end of the war, unlike most able-bodied young men of the time. He rode the bus to and from work each day because he was unable to drive. He arrived an hour before everyone else because he had a "special job" assigned by Roy Truly of "checking the pipes for leaks" down in the basement.

If Lee Oswald's supposed motivation for supposedly shooting Kennedy was because he was a "loser" wanting to "make a name for himself," then in Jack Dougherty you've got a LOO-o-o-ser with a capital "L"! The only thing is, nobody would say that he was "trying to make a name for himself."

I also wouldn't necessarily posit that Jack was a (or "the") shooter, or even that he had a hand in planning any of what went down, but precluding him as someone who assisted in its execution, wittingly or not up to the point that the guns were aimed, is foolish. The question that it raises, of course, is who it was that he helped.

Consider:

  • Jack worked in the building, something that was surely needed by any outsider who wanted to come in as unobtrusively as possible;
  • He arrived early every morning, giving him the opportunity to take the "rifle sack" paper from Troy West's roll. He could have gotten it out at any time (after all, who was watching him, or was even asked about him in the subsequent "investigation?"), but the point is that he wouldn't have been seen taking it;
  • He went immediately "back to work" that Friday, which he stated was not his norm. Why did he do that when virtually everyone else went to watch the parade? Jack didn't just not watch it, he "went back to work."
  • He was on both the fifth and sixth floors. Like Lee Oswald, he too had "access to" those floors, was there every day, and "had business" there, but unlike Oswald, he admitted that that's where he was. Yet ... he saw and heard nothing but a single "backfire." No running above him, nor even fifty feet away when three grown men ran pell-mell from one side of the building to the other. Is that really believable?
  • Nobody saw him after lunch, not even Bonnie Ray Williams who was on both floors that Jack was on.

Someone like Jack could be easily manipulated. He was borderline retarded, and the object of ridicule by some of the younger men at work who chided him for being a "mama's boy" living at home (at 40!) and made fun of the way he spoke.

All it would take is someone who knew him to cozy up to him, build up his anger, tell him that he could "do something for his country" (as he was unable to do in WWII Indiana!) and be a "hero" (like Jack Ruby?), but, well, he just couldn't say anything to anybody. All you've gotta do, Jack, is meet these guys by the back door after lunch and take them upstairs ....

Personally, I don't think that Bonnie Ray didn't see Jack, any more than Hank or Junior "didn't see him" either. If they saw him, they chose not to say so for some reason; if Jack was with someone with a gun who'd shot the President, I'd qualify that as "a good reason for suddenly going blind and deaf!"

Means? With a little help, yes.

Motive? As much as Oswald, anyway.

Opportunity? By his own admission.

Was he "conspiracy material?" I'm guessing there's a fair chance that he was.

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Duke,

I find it hard to believe that a borderline retard would be brought into a conspiracy, even marginally, if he knew he was helping assassinate the president. Would it be enough to tell such a person not to say anything? Could not such a person easily say something inadvertently?

You're right that there are some suspicious things about Doughtery's story. But if a borderline retard was indeed involved in the plot that day, then I would expect him to be among the very first suspicious deaths in the case. You can't just trust someone like that, particularly if he's going to be testifying in a government hearing. But I assume that Doughtery did not meet such an early demise. At least I haven't heard of it.

Ron

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I find it hard to believe that a borderline retard would be brought into a conspiracy, even marginally, if he knew he was helping assassinate the president. Would it be enough to tell such a person not to say anything? Could not such a person easily say something inadvertently?

You're right that there are some suspicious things about Doughtery's story. But if a borderline retard was indeed involved in the plot that day, then I would expect him to be among the very first suspicious deaths in the case. You can't just trust someone like that, particularly if he's going to be testifying in a government hearing. But I assume that Doughtery did not meet such an early demise. At least I haven't heard of it.

"Borderline retarded" was a phrase that I repeated from what someone said to me, paraphrasing someone else who knew Jack when that someone wasn't much more than a kid. It was not a medical opinion. My bad.

He may have been "slow" and socially inept, but he was not necessarily a candidate for residency in a state school. Maybe his deal was something we control with drugs these days, like kids with short attention spans, I don't know, and I don't know that anybody does for real, since many or most of his contemporaries are dead (he was 40 in 1963), and any doctors he might have seen probably are, too. He died in 1994.

My main point in this exercise is simply this: nobody has ever given Jack Dougherty a second glance beyond "he was standing by the 5th floor stairs" when all sort of stuff was going on around him. It is uncritically accepted as unquestionable fact; there's no more to it than what we've always heard, which is nothing much.

Remove my "borderline retarded" characterization from the equation, because all it seems to do is provide an inaccurate reason to dismiss absolutely anything other than what little we already know. So I'll add another little factotum, again an opinion offered by someone else: "Jack always acted as if he knew something about the assassination that nobody else did." Maybe he did ... or maybe it was his smug ineptitude, who knows?

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